over wintering swiss chard

Discussion in 'Gardening & Plant Propagation' started by bee, Sep 24, 2006.

  1. bee

    bee WV , hilltop dweller Supporter

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    I got the theory of over wintering my chard so I can get seed next year;now I need the input of someone who actually has done it. I have a real good color mix on my "Bright Lights", everything from white to 2 shades yellow 2 shades orange,2 shades red and pink. I have voles and regular field mice so the "hay bales over in the row" around here just translates to "winter rodent resort with contiental breakfast". :grump: Sooo how do you do it? If you over winter beets or carrots for seed same method will work for my chard. :help:
     
  2. Paquebot

    Paquebot Well-Known Member

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    You've got the right idea in order to save chard seeds. It normally has to winter over or have a dormant period to trigger seed production. For chard and beets, I simply use silver maple leaves starting at a foot or more deep. Then lay chicken wire over the mounds to prevent the leaves from blowing away.

    I have shrews around my home gardens but no voles. Stopping them would be your biggest problem. Since they would simply burrow under anything which covers the plants or mulch, you could build a "cage" out of half-inch hardware cloth. Bury the edges 6 inches into the soil and you may keep them out.

    Martin
     

  3. bee

    bee WV , hilltop dweller Supporter

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    Martin; we are talking about 30ft of row to get all the colors and caging all that is out of the question..can I keep the roots like they do endive in a bucket in the un-heated basement? Will still get cold but not freeze...and I can cover for darkness and wire tops for mice exclusion??? if you think this will work should I lift before or after frost?? They got their second wind after my drought broke and are growing like gangbusters.. :dance:
    Hmmm, would you know why my beets failed this year but my chard was fantastic?
     
  4. Paquebot

    Paquebot Well-Known Member

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    When Plan A is not an option, then go with Plan B! Chard is a little harder to winter over than beets, according to the some references, but I've found them to be the same here. Anyway, SSE's "Seed to Seed" advice for cold zones is as follows: "Store Swiss chard heeled in dirt, sand, or sawdust in buckets." Also very cool and very damp. That's quite vague but that's the only other method other than deep mulching.

    As for when to do that, I waited for frost to kill the tops. I cut them off an inch or above the crowns before burying them under leaves. That was for both beets and chard.

    Beets were both a major problem and no problem this year. At home, flea beetles and rabbits cleaned me out 100%. In the community plots, never lost a one even with deer dining on leaves now and then. The only problem then was that the deer later would pull the plants out of the ground and thus dictated when we would have beets to eat! Just bought 3 home today which are as big as softballs and I'm not certain what variety they are. Friend heard of my flea beetle problem and gave me the remainder of his packet.

    Martin
     
  5. SquashNut

    SquashNut Well-Known Member

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    In zone 5b, I put about 6 inches of a mix of hay, compost and torn up card board on a bed of chard that had been started in August for fall cutting. I harvested about 2 cups of seed from just 6 plants.